This week the ONS released the latest UK ‘happiness report’ which showed that people living in Wales and England are less satisfied than those living in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The report also suggested that people who are married, have jobs and own their own homes are more likely to be satisfied than those that don’t – Now there’s a surprise…  

The report is part of national wellbeing scheme and was initiated in 2010 by the Prime Minister David Cameron. At a cost of £2m a year the programme asks 200,000 residents to measure their happiness through a series of question, such as ‘how anxious did you feel yesterday’. The data is then collated by the ONS and sent to parliament for review.

After the announcement of the scheme and its subsequent derision in the media the PM defended the idea saying that although the idea of a ‘happiness index’ is somewhat woolly and impractical, it does however give us an insight into general mood of the country. David Cameron went on to say: “You cannot capture happiness on a spreadsheet any more than you can bottle it… the index could give us a general picture of whether life is improving” and eventually “lead to government policy that is more focused not just on the bottom line, but on all those things that make life worthwhile.”

So should we care about happiness?

The answer to that is, of course, a definite yes. Whether it relates to life, love or relationships, happiness is always a state of mind that should be sought and strived for; perhaps one of the most important areas where happiness should be pursued is in the arena of business – After all ‘a happy worker is a more productive worker’ and let’s face it happy customers tend to come back again, and again, and again…

A recent report conducted by Professor Andrew Oswald from the Warwick Business School discovered that: “Happier workers, our research found, were 12% more productive. Unhappier workers were 10% less productive.” Though some might predictably say that it’s just common sense, the team of economists from Warwick concluded: “We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity. Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings, while negative emotions have the opposite effect.”

Getting into the happiness business

Now some people might say that businesses are in the business to make money, not to make their staff and employees happy, but if it costs your business £30 a week to take a few people out for lunch and the resulting ROI is a 10% improvement in productivity then what have you got to lose? Besides a potential improvement in productivity, an increase to the overall contentedness of your staff will also help morale, will help with staff retention and may make your staff more willing to work those late hours when the chips are down.

Improving the health and happiness of your staff doesn’t have to cost a fortune and there are a number of small changes you can make to make your work environment better and more productive for your staff. For some suggestions on how to improve your business’ happiness see this handy PDF guide.

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